“Peep peep peep!”
I call as I unlock the henhouse door. The goslings come waddling and peeping as fast as they can.
Right over the bodies of two of the ducklings. My breath catches in my throat as I unlatch the bottom half of the door and step in.
“No,” I whisper softly as I pick up the first limp body. “No.”
“Peep peep peep!” Call the geese excitedly. But I scarcely notice them. Seven ducklings sit huddled under the heat lamp. There should be eleven. I tear apart the henhouse looking for the other two but come up with nothing.
“Why?” I cry out as I sit in the litter amidst my peeping goslings, all jostling for my attention. “WHY?!”
The anger and the hurt and the despair begin to well up in my chest. I want to scream. I want to walk away and give up. I can’t do this again. I can’t keep trying and failing at everything.
I pick up the second body and feel as if I am looking at the death of a dream. Here in my hands lies my vision for what I want our property to someday be and it is dead and I cannot revive it.
I am giving up.
But this duckling looks different than the other. This one is missing its bill and its feet. I spot tiny gnaw marks on what is left of the bill and I realize my ducklings were probably attacked by a rat. A rat that will be back. I need to protect them.
I drag down the rabbit cage from the garage and make my seven survivors a nest in it. Nothing should be able to attack them in the cage. I look at my goslings. I can’t even bear to think how I will react if something happens to them, but there isn’t room in the cage for them. I look at the chicks on the other side of my makeshift nursery. I am not as worried about them. Most of them sleep on the roost now and with the light on in the henhouse, they are pretty active through the night. I think they are fast enough to get away from a rat.
But I’m not so sure about the goslings.
And I know the rat will be back.